Review: The Blizzard – The Football Quarterly (Issue Six)

blizzard_6“…The Blizzard was born in Sunderland in March 2010…”, so pronounces Jonathan Wilson in the Editor’s Note from Issue Six of this Quarterly football publication. So as this fledgling journal approaches its third birthday, there were a number of questions that sprung to mind as I set about this review. What was the reasoning behind the creation of The Blizzard? How did it get its title? And finally, is there room in the market for more football writing?

The answer to the first two of these questions were found on The Blizzard website, where Editor, Jonathan Wilson states his belief in founding the publication was “…that there should be more space for more in-depth pieces, for detailed reportage, history and analysis…” in the football market. Adding that in format it is, “…neither magazine nor book…” and where,“…eclecticism is the key…” In terms of the title, The Blizzard, is “…named after the short-lived and eccentric, but rather brilliant, Sunderland newspaper launched as ‘the organ of Mr Sidney Duncan’ in 1893”

So what of the content? In this particular issue (of just under 200 pages) there are ten headings, which include; Portugal, Interview, Euro 2012, Theory, Photo Essay, The Lost, Polemics, Fiction, Greatest Games and Eight Balls. Some of these headings relate to single articles, such as Interview, Photo Essay, Fiction, Greatest Games and Eight Balls, whilst the remainder contain a number of pieces from a range of writers. So for instance under the heading Portugal, there are pieces penned by Ben Shave, Luis Catarino, Andy Brassell and Vitor Sobral. Indeed one of the many strengths of The Blizzard is the eminence of the contributors who are recognised football writers from across the globe, with many names familiar to those who listen to the Football Weekly podcast from The Guardian.

In this Issue I have two favourite articles. The first is from the Editor, Jonathan Wilson which centres on Euro 2012 and the questions the event in Poland and Ukraine raised “…about the nature of fandom and what comprises a tournament…”, with the second from Tom Dart, titled, Location, location, location: Which is more important? How it looks or where a stadium is? Both epitomise the excellent writing within this publication and provided me with plenty of food for thought on a number of levels.

Given the standard of The Blizzard it may seem churlish to be critical of it. However, there were a couple of minor things for me. Firstly, within the Photo Essay I would have liked to have had captions for each picture (although I recognise some may argue that the pictures speak for themselves) and I would also have liked to see the pictures sat against a white background rather than the black, which for me took away some of the vibrancy of the images. The second point relates to the Eight Balls piece. Whilst the various balls are well described by Sheridan Bird, I believe the article would have been enhanced by images of the various spheres in question. But as I say these are indeed slight points.

In closing and returning to my final question about “…whether there is room in the market for more football writing…”, I have to conclude that The Blizzard is ‘grown-up’ football writing, with articles and features that are articulate and thought-provoking. These are pieces that span the globe, talk about the game in the past, now and in the future, and integrate with various topics including politics and social history, but without being pretentious. There is no doubt a place for such classy writing. Make it a New Year’s resolution to sample a copy of The Blizzard.

Details about The Blizzard and how to obtain copies can be found on their website